Once when I was working in my yard, I noticed a baby bird in the grass. This is not uncommon in the spring. Apparently, the mother deems the hatching young enough to be on its own and gives it a nudge out of the nest. Sometimes they take off and fly; other times they fall to the ground. If the flightless bird doesn’t catch on quickly, it will either die of starvation or be eaten. Flying provides both food and freedom.
Hoping to “motivate” it to take off, I slowly approached it. It began nervously chirping and hopping—a sure sign that it didn’t yet know how to fly. With my continued approaching, it fluttered its wings, but remained earthbound. Becoming more fearful, it hopped and fluttered at the same time, rising a few inches before settling back down.
On a third try, it went a bit higher and made some forward movement. With me drawing still closer, it repeated the effort and faltered forward, sometimes only inches off the ground, and then with a newly acquired confident flap of its wings, gained altitude and glided to a nearby tree. Thankfully, this story had a happy ending. As a result of panic it gained the ability to fly.When panic occurs, we can do extraordinary things. There is power in panic. Click To Tweet
This reminded me when I was a kid. A friend and I were playing in a small pit, and my dog jumped in to join the fun. When we grew tired of this diversion, we climbed out, but my dog was stuck. It was too high for him to jump and too steep to climb. His repeated efforts to free himself ended in failure; no amount of coaxing or encouragement worked. I jumped back in to help, but he was too heavy to lift and each rescue attempt ended in failure.
We decided a stepladder might provide the needed assistance. I told my pet we would be right back (I really believed he could understand me) and hightailed it to find a ladder. Only a few hurried steps on my journey and my faithful dog was by my side. Overjoyed, I bent down and gave him a grateful hug. Apparently, as long as he could see me, he wasn’t too concerned, but once I faded from view, his panic of being left alone gave enough extra incentive to try harder.
In both these cases, panic helped these animals do something they wouldn’t have otherwise done. The same is true with people; when panic occurs, we can do extraordinary things. There is power in panic.
Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.